A Silent Voice is the anime to show those nagging friends who think anime only features bikini catgirls in space pirate battles. This is a hard-hitting slice of life drama about bullying.
The anime was directed by Naoko Yamada who is probably best known for K-On – another school drama but a world apart from A Silent Voice. If A Silent Voice gets noticed by western critics then it’ll be this anime and not the cheerful K-On that makes her a worldwide name.
People can be horrid to one another, they can be brutal and go out of their way to make life miserable for the target of attentions. This seems to be especially true for children in some schools where bullying is a constant problem.
Shoko Nishimiya is deaf and is unlucky enough to become the target of Shoya Ishida’s bullying. At first the class finds it awkward, then joins in but Shoya soon finds there are repercussions for his actions. In fact, he may never be able to overcome them.
Why watch A Silent Voice if it is this powerful? Like the best anime it is gorgeous. The characters are all too real as is the horror of the unfolding situation. This is a story that will tug on the heartstrings and leave you with something to think about.
A Silent Voice also feels like one of those emotional stories that work best an anime. Actors wouldn’t carry the same tone – with the animation it is easier to step into the roles so carefully created by the storyteller.
There are no fantasy, supernatural or sci-fi twists in A Silent Voice but there is one important special effect. One of the main characters, due to the stress of the bullying, retreats from the hassle of having to look people in the eye or even remember their face. This is represented in the anime by blue cross stickers being placed over the faces of everyone on the wrong side of his emotional veil. I can’t see this working in film. It works very well on anime.
Do I recommend A Silent Voice? Definitely. It is a fantastic story. True it can be uncomfortable viewing in part and you will be right to worry that there may be no happy ending but this is an anime that’ll speak to you.